MIA's third album, the one she finally named for herself, reeks of disingenuous messages and incomprehensible sensationalism. One can only smile at the severe irony of MIA panning accusations of being a phony with a record named for herself, full of more or less indecipherable pop, so it's safe to say that /\/\/\Y/\
kept me grinning for the duration.
MIA has been inventive, sticky, and downright awesome with her music before (I freely admit this), but the lady behind the dials has always been a little questionable with her real-life intentions and "activism". We've all been more than happy to replace criticisms with hollow praises if the music was banging. But as I've been saying for months, the only thing banging about this album is my head against the wall, repeatedly. Not only is the music rough and masturbatory, the lyrics are almost consistently groan-worthy. The production sounds like dirty Chex Mix, simultaneously cluttered to the rafters and empty sounding... an impressive feat by any standard. Like Lucas and Episode I, MIA has most likely fallen prey to the pratfalls of success and egotism; an army of yes-men can destroy an artist's credibility, and it's likely what happened in the studio with this record.
I think hints of MIA's ability to write a decent hook are hovering like disembodied spirits all over the place, which makes this record sound even more like a eulogy for the days of "Paper Planes". "XXXO" has a decent chorus. "Steppin' Up" gets good all of a sudden about a minute in, but is marred by drill noises for some reason. "Space" has real potential as more of an introductory track but again, falls prey to misplacement and a myriad of confusing production choices. Opener "The Message" just prattles about Google being connected to the government, and although it's meant to elicit some Vigilant Citizen type intrigue, it just sounds like the ramblings of a woman looking for someone other than herself to blame for the backlash.
The front side of the record depicts MIA hiding behind a bunch of Youtube navigation bars, which is accurate, but probably not in the intended manner. While I'm sure she meant something about the perils of the Internet here (an incredibly stale conceit, present throughout the album), the picture ends up looking crowded and confusing, just like the music contained within. In this case, you can judge the book by it's cover.-joe puglisi
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MIA on Myspace